Social Work

Program Type
Master’s Program
Master of Social Work (MSW)
Modes of Study
Blended;In person

Tuition & fees

Costs include tuition & fees. Out-of-state residents receive a special tuition break. See cost details

Credit hours

61 required credit hours. Most courses are equal to 3 credit hours. Advanced Standing students complete 33 credits. Browse course list

Financial aid

Over 150 graduate assistantships available with stipend & tuition assistance, plus scholarship, fellowship & research opportunities. Explore aid


No GRE required. Apply by November 15 for fall term. View application process & deadlines

Program highlights

  • Earn your degree on your terms: Study with a full course schedule and finish in as few as 2 years, or study with a reduced schedule and finish in 3-4 years.
  • Save time and finish in as little as 1 year if you’ve recently obtained a BSW from USM or another CSWE-accredited program.
  • Choose a mode of study that is blended (a mix of online and in-person courses) or in-person.
  • Learn from full-time faculty who are PhD-trained social work scholars with diverse areas of expertise in practice, theory, research, and policy.
  • Study in a program that is nationally accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  • Qualify to apply for LMSW-CC licensure and MHRT-C certification in Maine.
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Program requirements

You’ll study in a cohort of fellow students, beginning with a generalist foundation that provides a broad introduction to the social work profession. You’ll then move on to specialization, with an increased emphasis on creativity, critical thinking, valuing diversity, social and economic justice, and leadership.

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Experiential learning

Field education is at the heart of the program. By participating in two 9-month internships, you’ll have the opportunity to apply skills and integrate classroom learning with social work practice at agencies and organizations within the community.

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Career opportunities

Prepare for a career in a range of areas, including clinical social work, community practice, public policy, and more. Our graduates work in public and private sector settings in healthcare, mental health, state government, non-profits, and education.

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Licensure and certification

Graduates are eligible to apply for state licensure at the LMSW level. In addition, the educational requirements associated with your practice coursework will allow you to apply for Maine’s MHRT-C certification, a credential required of practitioners in many practice settings in the state.

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National accreditation

Our program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which is the national organization that accredits all social work programs in the United States.

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Scholarship opportunities

Scholarships offer financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. We encourage students in graduate degree programs to apply for scholarship opportunities.

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Connect with us

Our monthly Graduate Information Sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the benefits of our program, as well as our admissions and financial process.

Register today
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Accomplished faculty

Our faculty regularly present their work at national and international conferences and publish in journals and books. All faculty work represents a commitment to the empowerment of disenfranchised groups and the promotion of social justice.

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Graduate student support

Our Office of Graduate Studies connects you with opportunities for professional development, scholarships, and graduate assistantships. They also foster our graduate student community through Peer Mentorship and the Graduate Student Board.

Browse resources
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Next steps

Our graduate admissions counselors are here to answer your questions about the admissions process, our academic programs, and student support services.

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Admission information: Social Work MSW

Application deadlines

Application deadlineFall 2025 start
FinalNovember 15, 2024
Applications are reviewed after the deadline. Apply by November 15 to start the following year. The Low-residency MSW cohort admits every other year. Next start is Summer 2026.

The graduate program in social work seeks candidates whose baccalaureate preparation, scholastic achievement, professional experience, interest, motivation, and references point to the potential and capacity for success in the MSW program and professional development in social work.

Applicant must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, with a GPA of 3.0 or above in undergraduate study and a student’s major; Applicants can apply to the program while finishing the bachelor’s degree, but, if accepted, enrollment will be conditional upon its successful completion. GPA of 3.0 or above in any previous graduate work in social work.

Prerequisite Coursework

  • At least 18 credit hours in liberal arts such as literature, math, history, philosophy, performing arts, and humanities.
  • In addition, the MSW Admissions Committee will review each applicant’s undergraduate coursework to determine whether any one or more of the areas specified below are under-represented. 
  • At least 6 of the 18 credits must be in the social sciences, preferably, psychology and sociology.

Applicants who lack the above liberal arts courses but are otherwise qualified may be accepted into the program conditionally. The expectations for meeting the conditions will be explained in the acceptance letter.

Advanced Standing: Applicants with a BSW degree from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education may apply for advanced standing within 7 years of completing a BSW degree.  For advanced standing students, applicants must submit their previous final field evaluation received from a BSW program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. For students currently enrolled in accredited BSW programs, mid-year evaluations must be submitted with the applications or as soon as they are received. Acceptance into the MSW program will be conditional upon the receipt of the final fieldwork evaluation.

The MSW program has outlined tips for a strong application and things to consider when applying.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

General requirements

  • Application: Online application
  • Application fee:
    • In-state, out-of-state, and Canadian applicants: Free to apply
    • International applicants: Submit US $50 fee to apply
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Students whose first language is not English may be required to take one of the following: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or Duolingo. Applicants must submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information regarding test scores and requirements.

Additional requirements

  • Essay: Answer all four of the essay prompts below. Please note and adhere to the word limit specified for each prompt.
    • 1) Social work practice is guided by professional values and ethics. Students are expected to promote social justice and empower people who have been marginalized historically, socially, and politically. Please review the NASW Code of Ethics. Respond to prompts (a) and (b) below in a total of 400 words:
      • What is your understanding of social work and what makes it unique as a profession? 
      • Describe how one or more of the values in the NASW Code of Ethics resonate with you and align with your professional goals. 
    • 2) Humility and commitment to growth are important qualities for social workers. In 200 words or less, describe a time when you made a mistake or recognized a personal bias. How did you learn from that experience?
    • 3) In 150 words or less, describe what knowledge and skills you have from your previous work, volunteer, or life experience that you would bring to your social work education and future career. Please provide specific examples. 
    • 4) MSW education provides rigorous and comprehensive training for social work practice. Please review these cohort descriptions on the MSW Program Information page, noting that field internships and in-person classes primarily take place during regular working hours. In 100 words or less, please explain how you plan to manage the time and workload requirements of the MSW program.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Three professional or academic letters of reference reflecting on both academic achievement and paid or volunteer work experience relating to social services. Recommendations should be from individuals who are qualified, through direct experience with your academic or professional work, to comment on your ability to undertake graduate study and your chosen profession. 
  • Cohort Preference Form: Rank choices of format

Transfer Students

Matriculated students who have earned graduate credits in a Council on Social Work Education accredited MSW program may transfer up to 30 credits. To transfer credits, students must enroll in the graduate program at the University of Southern Maine within 7 years of initially earning credits from another MSW program. In order to transfer credits, the student must have maintained a GPA of 3.0 or above.

Acknowledgment of Program Authorizations and Licensure through the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and Background Checks

The Master of Social Work program may lead to a license or certification required for employment in a particular occupation. Programs offered by the University may or may not meet the conditions for licensure or certification in all states. Please consult the University’s information page located at to view information on program compliance with state licensure requirements.

MSW students will be subject to background checks and certain criminal records may pose a barrier to securing field placement and/or state licensure. This is required to be licensed, certified or otherwise professionally qualified to enter certain fields of professional activity; to participate in internships, practicums, field experiences, clinical experiences or other activities relevant to completing professional training; to engage in professional development; or to graduate from a particular program of study. Certain employers may also require a background check.
Contact the MSW Coordinator, Rachel Casey ( for questions regarding this.

The University makes every effort to ensure that information about compliance with state licensure requirements is up to date, but licensure and certification requirements change frequently and you are encouraged to contact the licensure or certification authority to determine current requirements.

International student instructions

View additional application requirements

English proficiency test scores

View test requirements

Where to send application materials

Get our mailing address and email address